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Scammers will hope to exploit cost of living crisis, say UK police

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The cost of living could be the next frontline for scammers, the head of the UK’s specialist police unit for fraud has warned, with criminals using the crisis as a way to lure potential victims.DCI Gary Robinson, head of the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), said he thought fraudsters could seize on the financial squeeze to persuade people to hand over their personal details.“The next thing I can foresee is criminals using the cost of living crisis to social-engineer people – they might send messages offering rebates on gas and electricity and play on people’s vulnerabilities,” he said.Robinson was speaking to the Guardian as the DCPCU marked its 20th anniversary and prepared to release figures showing that 2021 was a record year for fraud prevention.The unit, which is funded by the finance industry and made up of officers from the City and Metropolitan police forces together with members of the banking industry, blocked £101m worth of crime last year in operations targeting gangs.

Its investigations into scams and frauds involving bank customers led to 123 arrests and disrupted the activities of 23 organised criminal gangs.Since the start of the pandemic, fraudsters have used a range of themes in texts and emails to get people to click on links and give details which were later used to persuade them to hand over money from their accounts.“Fraudsters move with the times – whatever is the latest trend that’s what they tend to switch to,” Robinson said. “Through the pandemic we started with vaccines, then we went to tax rebates as people were working from home, then back to vaccines, then delivery scams as people were shopping online.

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